This past weekend, my daughter and I headed over to a friend’s house so our two little ones could play while we got caught up on the details of our lives. We started talking about a friend of ours and how her daughter, now six, had developed quite an attitude. Her mom and our friend, lets this little girl run her life. There is nothing this little girl doesn’t get. If she wants a chocolate bar for breakfast, she’ll eventually get it. If she wants to stay up until 11pm watching cartoons, she will.
Obviously I feel like this is an extreme case of bad parenting but I see aspects of this in many kids. I don’t know what or when it happened but sometime during my generation (30ish years) parents totally lost control. Please note that I am by no means trying to seem like I’m some sort of perfect parent, but one thing I will do is enforce and demand a few things of my child such as structure, rules and politeness, none of which this little girl has.
The Pleases and Thank You’s
My daughter is only 17 months and some of the first words I’m demanding she learn, are ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. I see kids everyday at my job (dentistry) and rarely do the children say please or thank you even if I give them a treat such a sticker or small toy. I’ve become so used to it I almost expect to not hear it. It’s such a simple thing but teaching simple manners like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ can go a long way.
Children learn from exposure. Anytime my daughter does something I ask of her (”please pass something to mommy”, ”could you pick up your toy, please?”) I always include ”please” and end with a ”thank you”. Even though she is just learning to talk she is beginning to understand what the two mean.
I have so many friends and family with kids who don’t enforce chores. I feel like chores are a huge part of development. The children help with the maintenance of the family home, while learning that there are expectations of them within this life.
My daughter may be young but she already has ”chores”. She helps me unload the dishwasher by me allowing her to take out the silverware and pass them to me one-by-one and I place them in the drawer. It takes about five times longer this way, but I appreciate her helping me and her learning that she is helping me. She also helps me feed the cat. I measure out the cat’s food, pass her the scoop and she dumps it in the bowl. She loves helping mommy. Again I always make sure to thank her when she helps.
If you start young, and implement guidelines and responsibilities for your kids, your life will be much easier. Start with the basics and the more difficult tasks will be much easier. There’s nothing nicer than a young child knowing to say please and thank you without their parents needing to encourage them (though I like an encouraged please and thank you over none any day). Being polite and nice will go a long way in this world. Setting a strong foundation in childhood will be a life long help.
Do you encourage your children with manners and please/thank you?